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Anonymous sources

WikiTribune is an evidence-based journalism platform which strives for a neutral point of view. Only in exceptional circumstances where it’s necessary for the safety or security of a source or the release of material of public interest should anonymous sources be used.

WikiTribune staff intending to quote an unnamed source are expected to clear that decision with the Launch Editor or his delegate. Community members can expect an editor to query decisions to use an anonymous source to ensure that it is justified to withhold that person’s identity.

WikiTribune intends to uphold high standards of respect for confidentiality of sources but is equally aware some sources may hide behind anonymity for nefarious reasons. Such judgements will be made on a case by case basis by senior editors.

Valuable information on anonymity and the protection of sources is in this article from the Society of Professional Journalists in the United States.

This is a working document. You are welcome to EDIT it or use TALK on the top right of this page. Thank you.

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History for Project "Anonymous sources"

  1. Peter Bale Category and topics updated
  2. Peter Bale Updated, removed DRAFT
  3. John Tyler Remove unnecessary word
  4. Peter Bale Created and edited

Anonymous sources

Talk about this Project

  1. thought y’all might find This Column in “entrepreneur and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar’s Civil Beat that was launched in 2010 as a local digital platform that looks beyond traditional print and television media approaches ( http://www.civilbeat.org/about/ ) of possible interest:

    Reader Rep: When Anonymous Sourcing Is Practically Encouraged
    http://www.civilbeat.org/2017/10/reader-rep-when-anonymous-sourcing-is-common-journalism-suffers/

  2. An anonymous source not authorised to speak on behalf of…

    An anonymous source in the office of…

    An anonymous source with knowledge of…

    Those aren’t very helpful to a reader trying to gauge the legitimacy of a particular statement. Perhaps we should also include the reason that the editors chose to maintain anonymity? Or would every reason be ‘to avoid negative consequences of being associated with this piece of news’?

    It feels like any stories with anonymous sources should be somewhat devalued, but then again I’m not a journalist so I’ve never had to cover for a source. Maybe just clearly mark the story at the top as ‘includes anonymous sources’ to distinguish from other stories that can be more directly verified? That seems like a way to measure broadly how open a site is, based on the percentage of its stories that have completely verifiable sources.

    1. Interesting idea, thank you. In many cases of course sensitive information would never emerge were it not for anonymous sources but we should always be clear when and why we are using them — personal safety for example.

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